Last week, Clyde Gadayan, a 4th year Architecture student from Bacolod, posted a few of his photos on Twitter to ask netizens for help promoting him as a freelance photographer. The photos instantly started spreading around the Twitterverse – the pastel perfect hues, awesome composition, and dreamy colors made every shot look like Gadayan was traveling into another world entirely.
Hi! I’m a freelance photographer based in Bacolod City. A retweet would help me out a lot in terms of reaching my dreams. 📸 pic.twitter.com/hq4mVXWWeC
— Clyde (@Clydeg_) June 18, 2018
Gadayan posts shots similar shots on his Instagram, where he is often the subject of the photo. He also maintains a YouTube account where he explores video media. After his tweet, Gadayan was interviewed by InqPop!, to whom he revealed where his love for visual art began: “I started taking photos back in high school using my phone. Around 2016, I started to follow beautifuldestinations, Sam Kolder, Jacob Riglin, Mike Visuals and others and I got inspired by their work that I decided to save for a camera so I can start shooting photos and videos. Around March last year, I bought my first camera and started taking [sic] shoots whenever I’m not that busy in school.”
For sure, Gadayan made use of photo editing software to enhance the colors and vibrancy of his shots. They’re obviously not film scans, or straight from the camera. A lot of thought and effort went into the post-processing, with the final outputs being something Gadayan was rightfully proud of. However, under a little bit more scrutiny, it seems it’s not just your usual Photoshop or VSCOCam tweaking. A closer inspection of the photos reveal there’s a lot more digital enhancement going on.
So no one’s really going to point out that these photos were poorly photoshopped? Fine, I’ll do it. All you have to do is zoom in to see the bs everywhere. https://t.co/MBZknui1op
— Eboy! (@eboyfernandez) June 20, 2018
Art Director Eboy Fernandez said it: these photos are digitally altered to include elements definitely part of the original shot.
A couple of years working as an art director trained my eyes to spot dirt on every single material I look at. It didn’t even take me a minute to spot how everything was poorly cropped in the Yasaka Pagoda photo. pic.twitter.com/W8EACnUutF
— Eboy! (@eboyfernandez) June 20, 2018
Fernandez points out that the editing was ‘poorly’ done, and that the doctoring is obvious. While the photos certainly have their merits, the point being made was that these weren’t the products of a ‘freelance photographer’. These would better be described as the products of a photo manipulation or Photoshop artist. Fernandez continues in his twitter thread to say: “While photo manipulation is common, I think it should still be done with finesse. Frankenstein-ing a photo and calling it “photography” is, I believe, unfair for truly talented photographers who do their best to capture real moments.”
Gadayan responded to the criticism by defending his work. Yes, he relies heavily on Photoshop to achieve his final products, but all the elements that go into it are his own.
“Like for example, there’s a nice sunrise I’ll take it and stock it. Then I go to osaka castle i take a gloomy photo. Then I’d edit both in photoshop to get the best results. Because you don’t always get what you want when you travel. I think photoshop is an important part of photography. I consider it as an art. I may not be that good in photoshop yet but I’m trying to practice it everyday,” Gadayan shared with InqPop!.
The whole issue opened up the topic of what a photographer is in the age of photo manipulation, and where it can become a whole other art form all together. While Gadayan admitted to using Photoshop and his stance on the role it plays in his creative process is clear, it’s still a point of discussion whether or not he can, or should, be called a ‘photographer’.